New Computer System Is “Gender Neutral”

( The FAA communications system that broke down last week causing thousands of flights to be grounded and disrupting travel for millions of airline passengers had its name changed over a year ago to make it more gender-neutral.

The “Notice to Airmen” system, or NOTAM, had its name changed in early December 2021 when the Federal Aviation Administration issued an order that, among other things, changed “Notice to Airmen” to “Notice to Air Missions” to make it more inclusive for all aviators and missions.

This way, any female pilots who are easily offended, can’t get offended by “Notice to Airmen,” while any unmanned aircraft like drones or weather balloons don’t feel excluded either.

Of course, changing what NOTAM stands for didn’t make a bit of a difference last week as the system crash forced the FAA to halt all flight departures from the US just after 7:00 am ET last Wednesday.

When the system was restored about two hours later, flights were allowed to resume, but not without causing chaos for the rest of the day.

By last Wednesday evening, over 2,800 US flights were canceled and over 9,700 were delayed, according to FlightAware. Airports in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta saw 30-40 percent of flights delayed.

The FAA determined that the shutdown was caused by the NOTAM communication system.

Before a flight can take off, pilots and airline dispatchers review notices, including details about the weather, runway closures or construction, or other information that could affect the flight. The NOTAM system, while separate from air traffic control, is still considered a “vital safety system.”

But Tuesday night, that vital system stopped accepting new or updated information, according to the FAA. The agency switched to using a phone line for updates during the night but stopped after increased daytime air traffic overwhelmed the phone system.

According to the FAA, the shutdown was caused by human error when an engineer swapped out a file during routine systems maintenance.